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Perl in a Nutshell Paperback – Dec 11 1998

3.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Perl in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference
CDN$ 59.51
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 674 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (Dec 11 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565922867
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565922860
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 816 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,275,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Perl in a Nutshell strives to be a perfect set of socket tools for the active Perl programmer. By and large, it succeeds, providing endless and well-thought-out lists and tables on the language's modules, flags, and extensions. The authors briefly address basic learner's questions--such as the difference between a hash and an array--but these concepts are not the purpose of the book. (Those new to Perl would be better off with others in the O'Reilly Perl series, such as Learning Perl, while programmers making the switch to Perl can pick up the nuances of the language with Programming Perl.) This book is pure Perl reference, briefly covering Perl/Tk (for GUI Perl programs on Unix and Windows 95/NT) and Perl for Win 32.

The authors do start at the very beginning, and even in a self-described "desktop quick reference" find the time to comment on less urgent--but still interesting--Perl-related matters (like how to find online help amidst the "Perl culture"). The format of the book makes sections on topics such as Perl debugging easily understandable, illustrating how to make an interactive and timesaving environment.

Of particular convenience is the outstanding section on the standard Perl modules. A four-page "quick look" allows you to easily scan through short definitions of all the modules and find the entry you're looking for. An index with full definitions for each module follows, showing you how to use each module and providing a more in-depth explanation (and often, examples). Perl in a Nutshell concludes--as you might expect--with an excellent and well-cross-referenced index. --Jennifer Buckendorff


"In a nutshell, Perl is designed to make the easy jobs easy, without making the hard jobs impossible." -- Larry Wall, creator of Perl --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'd been occasionally writing perl for a few months without a decent reference, and have always relied on O'Reilly's _In A Nutshell_ series, so got this book. I think this did not live up to standards..
After an introduction to CPAN (online perl archive) and installing perl, the basic constructs of the language are explained in reasonable (for programmers) detail - data types, statements, special vars, operators, regex, subroutines, pod and the perl debugger. Some of it reads like a tutorial rather than reference, using paragraphs where tables would suit, slowing down ability to access info.
On advanced topics such as object orientation (3 pages), it faded into "throw a few paragraphs together". Occasional usage notes (e.g. anonymous subroutines for closures) would have been nice too.
A full function reference and alphabetised list of standard modules is given, with specific sections on databases, network programming, perl/tk, CGI and win32. With the exception of the CGI section (maybe thanks to its duplication in _Webmaster In A Nutshell_) they are usually little more than a list of methods/subroutines.
I'd advise buying the Camel book, and sticking to the online docs for modules and functions.
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Format: Paperback
Exactly as advertised, "Perl in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference" is a great reference book if you already have a basic understanding of Perl. Although it does have a section that it refers to as an "Introduction to Perl" it is actually a pretty cursory introduction and there are better books for learning the basics of Perl.
The book does have an excellent section on installing Perl including installation on both the Unix and Windows platforms. I've worked with both platforms and the installation process is well documented including how to install modules. This brings us to the large chapter on getting and installing Perl modules. I have spent hours sometimes trying to find an appropriate module for a special situation. This chapter lists all the most common modules and includes descriptions of what they do. This alone makes it a valuable resource for anyone involved in Perl.
The authors also include a lot of technical information including command line options and environment variables as well as a section on program structure, data types, special variables, operators, expressions, subroutines, filehandles, and just about anything else that you might need a quick refresher on.
Functions are listed both by category and by alphabetical order with descriptions and syntax information. I had a couple of problems on a large project recently and it took three days to get an answer through the forums on the Internet. The answers to all of them are right here and I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had had this book then.
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Format: Paperback
Many people are familiar with the UNIX in a Nutshell book that O'Reilly has published. These books cover the complete base UNIX Operating System (the commands with their parameters). UNIX administrators, like myself, went nuts over this book. This book was what we wanted, a good reference book that covered the commands with their appropriate switches without being a tutorial. UNIX in a Nutshell is the best reference book for UNIX on the market, hands down. Not only was the book a good reference based on how it was laid out, but for also being totally technically correct. O'Reilly has done it again, but this time with Perl. Perl in a Nutshell is not exactly what I expected from the book but instead it has a lot more to the book. The book was logically laid out by being broken down into eight sections and twenty chapters. The sections are Getting Started, Language Basics, Modules, CGI, Databases, Networking Perl/TK, Win32, & PerlScript. Going from the basics of the language to more advanced topics is a great design so the book will useful to many different people at different levels of knowledge and skill. As a previous college professor, I know that this book is perfect for the student and professional programmer.
The modules section covers the standard modules that come with Perl. Not only does it list the standard modules but gives descriptions with a list of the functions. Not to mention that it lists all the parameters/switches for each function also. For example, the module File::Find has two functions within, find & finddepth. The Perl/TK section lists all the standard switches and options for all the function in the module. This section is also a great companion to the Perl/TK book.
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Format: Paperback
This was one of my first books after Learning Perl, and I have to say after using it for about a month that I'm having to go and buy other books. Nutshell does not equal incomplete in my mind, and something that purports to be a reference should be at least as complete as the documentation. A short list of what I've been ticked of by so far:
1) Less than 2 pages devoted to object oriented perl. I realize that probably less than 20% of all perl people will ever write anything object oriented, but I'm find OO essential for breaking down complicated problems.
2) Missing library calls; for example, in the DBI library: prepare_cached, connect_on_init really do exist.
3) Incomplete documentation of each and every library call; what are the possible values of an attribute hash? You better RTM, because usually you won't find it here.
4) Inconsistent documentation of library calls: sometimes they tell you what type the function wants, and sometimes they don't.
5) Lack of example usage in the libraries.
This is not nitpicky stuff. A comprehensive reference book should answer the purpose at least 60% of the time, or it becomes a waste of time. But, if you use this book first, you will *still* have to look at the documentation or another book, guaranteed.
This book bears all the hallmarks of having been hurriedly compiled from information available online, without expert review, and poorly edited. I realize documentation is a boring thankless task (better than Sominex for me), but nevertheless this book does not hit the mark.
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